As we continue to tour the hall, we come to our next hero, Enoch.
5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:5-6; ESV)
We would expect to read a lot of information about this person who did not see death. So we turn back to the Old Testament to read about Enoch. Yet all that we find out about him is from the genealogical record. Notice that chapter 5 places emphasis on the fact that each person died. But then we come across the record for Enoch.
21 Enoch was 65 years old when he fathered Methuselah. 22 And after the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and fathered sons and daughters. 23 So Enoch’s life lasted 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not there, because God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24; HCSB)
This is all that we know about Enoch. The lack of details concerning Enoch’s life caused the Jews to take a special interest in him. Enoch was very popular in Jewish apocalyptic thought. You may have heard of the books of Enoch or 1 Enoch. These were writings from Jews written between 500 BC and 100 AD. I think it is understandable that Enoch was popular. He didn’t die and we have nearly no information about his life. His son, Methuselah, has more notoriety, living to a ripe old age of 969.
I think the natural question is why did Enoch not die? To help find the answer, we need to consider the morality of the people at that time. Within three generations the moral nature of the people was so bad that the scriptures record:
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). We think that we see our society going down the tubes because of its immorality, but consider what Enoch was putting up with. But Enoch did not sit back and simply bemoan the deterioration of the human race. Rather, he went preaching to the people: 14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14-15; ESV)
Enoch spoke about the coming of the flood. The language sounds like the end of the time, but Enoch spoke about what would take place in the days of Noah, when God would execute his judgment on the world because of the great wickedness. Yet, rather than having to continue to live in this world of extreme depravity, waiting for the flood, the scriptures record the simple words “God took him.” Why? Enoch walked with God. There are two people who did not see death, but only one person was said to have walked with God. Enoch. The Genesis account suggests that Enoch suddenly disappeared- “he was not” or “he was not there.”
The Challenge of the Disciple to Trust God When No One Else Is.
I think we learn a powerful lesson from Enoch: the ability to trust God even when no one else has faith in God. Jesus repeatedly warned that we would be in the minority in our efforts to serve the Lord. “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). To a varying degree all of us will struggle with our faith when it seems that others have no faith. I think that is why our faith can be shaken when science makes its declaration about the age of the world and the origin of the universe. We have the challenge to put our trust in God when no one else will. In a parallel to Enoch, living in a world that continues to move away from the Lord, we need to be drawing near to God.
Enoch walked with God.
How did Enoch have the courage to trust God in a world when no one else was trusting God? I think this is the point of the author: Enoch walked with God. Enoch had an extraordinary relationship. What picture comes to your mind when you think of “walking with God?” I think we need to picture having a close relationship with God. I think we need to picture having communication with God. I also think we need to picture spending time with God. Walking with God pictures a close relationship. Enoch had close fellowship with God.
Do we? When is the last time you enjoyed reading your Bible? When is the last time you stopped and prayed and it was not dinner? When is the last time you conversed with God? These are requirements for having a close relationship. No one can have a close relationship with another person if we do not know one another, talk to one another, spend time together, and work to understand one another. Enoch found a special relationship with God and walked with him. We can draw near to God as close as we want. Most of us do not want to draw very close because we have other things in our life that we are more interested in. We want to draw near to sports, finance, hobbies, work, and wealth. Thus, we are not able to draw near to God and do not have a relationship with God. We must leave the physical behind and draw near to God to walk with him.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7). Notice that we are commanded to walk with God, being rooted in God. We are to be established in the Lord. We are to find our strength and encouragement in the Lord.
Without Faith It Is Impossible To Please God
Then we come to an important statement that is lumped with Enoch. Without faith, we cannot walk with God. There is simply no way to have a relationship with God if we do not surrender our lives to him and entrust our lives to his leadership. I want us to really see the force of this statement. The writer of Hebrews did not say: “Without faith it is difficult to please God.” I think we often treat the writer’s words this way. But it is not difficult to be pleasing to God when we have a lack of faith. It is impossible. This was the point that we learned from Cain in our last lesson. We do not know what the exact problem was. But we do know that he did not trust God to worship him the way he had asked.
Now, it is important that we define faith properly here. Many times the context is ignored and we simply talk a mild belief in God. But that is not what the writer is talking about. The writer set up for us that we faith is about seeing the unseen. So when we are told that we need to believe that “He is” or “He exists,” this is not the mere acknowledgement that there is a God. As we are told by James in his letter, even the demons believe in that. To believe that God is has ramifications to our lives. If God is, then I need to walk with God. If God is, then I need to be found pleasing to God. The writer is not asking us to all nod our heads that there is a God. Believing that God is reaches further into our lives. Believing that God is caused Abel to worship the Lord properly. Believing that God is led Enoch to make the decision to walk with God.
How do I not give up? Notice the rest of verse 6. “For whoever draws near to God must believe… that he rewards those who seek him.” Here is another faith pillar for us. God rewards those who seek him. We can be people like Enoch who stand against the crowd because we know that God will reward us for our stand. We can have the strength to walk with God because we know that God will give us a reward. The scriptures are full of this motivation.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord—you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
We are called to believe in the promises of God. We must believe that God is going to fulfill these reward promises. This faith is what stands under our hope. We hope for these rewards. The greater faith we have, the stronger we believe in the reward we will receive.
By Faith Noah
A couple generations later we come across Noah. The scriptures tell us:
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
The key was that Noah was warned about events as yet unseen. Remember the author began by telling us that faith is seeing the unseen. Noah was able to believe about something that would have seemed completely illogical. For example: Noah would have to build a giant boat in order to rescue his family. How about the idea of having to save the animals by taking seven of every clean kind of animal and two of every unclean kind of animal? Noah had to believe that the world would be destroyed by a flood of water. We have to believe the world will be destroyed by fire. You see that would not be an easy thing to accept. Noah had to believe it would rain. The scriptures suggest that it had never rained before because mist from the ground watered the plants. Finally, he had to believe it would be the end of the world as he knew it. Everyone he knew except his family would perish. Everything about life was going to change. Noah showed true trust in God by believing what the Lord said.
In fact, the scriptures tell us that Noah had reverent fear. This reverent fear caused Noah to act. This fear propelled Noah to construct the ark. This was not a small boat. It was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. The scriptures tell us: “And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him” (Genesis 6:22).
In the events with Noah, God made another promise.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD. He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 When the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, He said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man’s inclination is evil from his youth. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done. 22 As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.” (Genesis 8:20-22; HCSB)
Go on to Genesis 9:12-17.
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations: 13 I have placed My bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember My covenant between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh: water will never again become a deluge to destroy all flesh. 16 The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh on earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have confirmed between Me and all flesh on earth.” (HCSB)
A promise to future generations and to all living creatures is that as long as the earth is around, God will not bring about a judgment by water. Summer and winter and day and night will continue. But notice there is the implication that the earth will not endure forever: “As long as the earth endures.” This indicates there will be a time when the earth will no longer endure. 2 Peter 3 tells us the earth will experience a judgment by fire and we will all stand before God for judgment. The sign of the covenant which reminds us of this covenant promise is the rainbow in the sky. God says that when he sees the bow in the clouds this will be the reminder of this everlasting covenant between God and every living creature.
Lessons From Enoch and Noah’s Faith
- Walk with God.
- Impossible to please God without faith.
- Believe that God is and God is a rewarder. Let this be the motivation of your life.
- True trust in God and true fear in God means we will obey God’s commands, even if they seem illogical.